Oil bottles come in all sizes, shapes and shades, and some of them are truly lovely. But before you can reuse them, you need to get out whatever oil remains in the bottle. You'll want to do this even if you are refilling the bottle with the same type of oil that was in it before because even good oil can go rancid. But if you want to use an oil bottle for a totally different purpose, oil-be-gone has to be the rule of the day.
Cleaning an Oil Bottle
Cleaning a bottle that contained oil is a bit of a challenge. Oil is a thick, viscous liquid that tends to stick to a container's walls. Add to that the fact that a bottle usually has a neck that is narrower than the main section of the container and the task seems hard. But don't throw that bottle away. It is entirely possible to clean oil off a glass bottle, to clean oily plastic containers and to remove a rancid oil smell from a bottle.
How to Oil Off Glass
Many many cooks use olive oil, making it among the most popular cooking oils in the United States. If you want to reuse the empty olive oil bottle or any other glass bottle that has contained oil, you'll need to clean it first. If you don't get the residual oil out of the bottle, it may get rancid over time, start smelling bad and corrupt whatever new liquid you store in the bottle.
But cleaning the bottle requires a little know-how because water doesn't do the job. Everyone knows that oil and water don't mix. And the small neck of the bottle may not admit a bottle brush or other cleaning implement inside. So use water plus soap and vinegar. First, run hot water into the glass bottle and dump it out several times to get out whatever you can get out. Then, drip liquid dish detergent into the bottle – a few drops will do – plus a spoonful of vinegar. Shake up the mix well, dump out the water and repeat several times. Finally, rinse the bottle under the sink tap until no more foam is evident. Hang them upside down to dry.
How to Clean Oily Plastic
If your oil bottle is plastic, you can try the same technique. Dove dish soap is said to be particularly effective. If that doesn't seem to work well, try measuring out 1/2 cup of household ammonia and putting it into the empty plastic container. Shake it gently, then let it sit for 24 hours before rinsing.
How to Remove Smell
If your primary goal is to remove the rancid oil smell from a bottle, you can try uncooked rice. You won't need much. Use the hot water, vinegar and dish soap first, getting as much of the residual oil out of the bottle. Then, add another 1/2 cup of water with a little dish soap and vinegar, plus 1 tablespoon of uncooked rice. Cork the bottle, then shake it thoroughly, letting the rice scrape the inside of the bottle to clean out the smell. Rinse well.
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From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.